Wilmington Evening Journal - March 19, 1980

Brusstar pushing himself to return


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


CLEARWATER, FLA. – Warren Brusstar is getting the cold shoulder down here. Though he was once the ace middle reliever on the staff, the Phillies are acting as if the right-hander doesn't even exist.


"I don't want a lot of hullabaloo about Brusstar," Manager Dallas Green said the other day. "Everyone knows what his loss did to our staff last year. I don't want to put pressure on him, to make him feel he's got to come back for us to be successful. If we keep harping on it, he might rush things and that will hurt us."


"I feel good," said Brusstar. "I know how they feel, so I am going to take it easy and see what happens."


Brusstar, called Bru by his teammates, was the Phils' top middle reliever in 1977 and 1978. He stopped rally after rally, setting the stage for the late-inning heroics of Tug McGraw and Ron Reed. In 1977, Bru's first season in the majors, he had a 7-2 record and a 2.66 earned run average in 46 games. In '78, he was 6-3 with a 2.33 ERA and did not allow a home run the entire season.


But about this time last year Brusstar's problems started. He was on Tug McGraw's benefit bicycle caravan in California and injured an ankle playing an exhibition basketball game. In spring training, he changed his delivery to compensate for the ankle and his shoulder started to ache.


He started the season on the disabled list, not returning until June 27 in Chicago. He worked in 13 games through July 24.


When he finally gave up on July 25, he had a 7.07 ERA and could hardly throw the ball.


"When I came back in June, I felt like I was healthy," Brusstar said. "Two days later, however, I pitched in St. Louis and my ankle bothered me. After the game I felt it and it was like putty. After that, I never knew how I would feel when I was asked to pitch. It was a horrible experience. I knew the team needed me."


Not having Brusstar caused Danny Ozark, the manager at the time, to call on Reed and McGraw many times as early stoppers. Then Ozark had no one left at the end.


"The difference was the fifth and sixth innings," Ozark said the other day during a visit to St. Petersburg as the Los Angeles Dodgers' third base coach. "The previous two years we gave up maybe only a run but, without Bru, we gave up three or four."


BRUSSTAR, WHO WAS TOLD at the time he probably would not pitch at all in 1980, is not even sure how he injured himself. "I can't tell you it happened on this day or that day," he said.


"I honestly think it was a combination of things. First, I was really tired in September of 1978. There was one span when I didn't pitch for 10 days. If I hadn't gotten some rest then, I wouldn't have made it the last week of the season. Then, I pitched in three of the four playoff games and, in the fourth one, was up in the bullpen five times.


"Immediately after the season, I started a weight program and then, during that bicycle caravan, I hurt my ankle. Because of the ankle, I shortened my stride by six or seven inches. I found myself pushing the ball rather than throwing it. Early in spring training, the shoulder began to bother me."


Brusstar has been examined by several specialists. In the beginning, complete rest was prescribed.


"I did not throw from the mound until I got here in the middle of February," said Brusstar. "I feel good. No, I feel fine right now, considering everything. I am confident I can help the team, but I know my situation. I have to prove something to the Phillies and to myself.


"I know they are not counting on me, but it doesn't bother me."


Since spring training officially opened, Brusstar has thrown batting practice several times but is not ready to take the mound in an exhibition game.


"Obviously, when they got Lerrin LaGrow they figured I would not be around this year," said Brusstar.


"I am not a pitching coach," said trainer Don Seger, "but I told Bru over the winter to give it complete rest and not do anything. Last year there was always an ankle problem, a shoulder problem, something to keep him from getting well.


"He got to the point where he could sleep without pain, open a door without pain. Now, he looks nice and fluid when he throws. As long as I don't see anything negative and I haven't I am encouraged."


"I'm not a doctor," said Green, "but Bru doesn't look bad."


Green was looking at him at that instance, but admits he doesn't notice Warren Brusstar very much. That's the way he wants it.

Trio pitches well but Phils’ three-game win streak ends


By Hal Bodley, Sports Editor


CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies had little to cheer about except the work of three pitchers as their three-game winning streak came to an end in a 2-0 loss to Montreal yesterday.


Manager Dallas Green knows the tough training camp he's running here, plus the across-state bus ride to Daytona Beach, took its toll yesterday.


"I fully expect us to get a little stale," said Green. "There's not much you can do about it."


The Expos scored both of their runs off Ron Reed in the eighth inning yesterday to break up the Grapefruit League pitching duel that lasted just an hour and 51 minutes. Hal Dues got the victory, though the Phils outhit the Expos 6-5.


"I think the pitchers tend to get in a slump in the spring more than everyday players," said Green. "Overall, though, I don't think that has happened. We just didn't have much punch today and the fact the Expos pulled off three double plays kept us from getting anything going."


The Phils will get the chance to return the favor today, hosting the Expos at Clearwater. Randy Lerch is scheduled to pitch against Ross Grimsley.


Yesterday the only good news was the pitching of Steve Carlton, Scott Munninghoff and Doug Bird. Carlton worked four strong innings, allowing just one single, a walk and two strikeouts. Nine of his outs were in the infield.


"You have to be pleased the way Lefty threw," said Green. "Even though this is only his second outing, I thought he had good velocity, fine control and even broke off a few sliders. He is just about where he should be at this stage of the spring."


Munninghoff and Bird pitched shutout baseball until Reed took over. Montreal snapped the scoreless tie in the eighth when Ken Macha singled to center with the bases loaded and moments later Tommy Hutton waited out a bases-loaded walk.


"Ron was having some trouble with his rhythm today," said Green. "He had fairly good velocity, but his control suffered. You just don't see him walk guys the way he did today. Like I was saying, it is one of those things that happens in spring training. There's no need to be concerned at this stage."


Reed agreed. "A typical spring outing," said the right-hander, who pitched one scoreless inning last Friday. "I was all over the plate, If this were the last start down here, I ' would not be happy. This is all part of the routine."


Munninghoff has allowed just one earned run in two outings and people are beginning to wonder if he might make the pitching staff.


"It's too early to talk about that," said Green, who refuses to put himself on the spot with a rookie.


"What would it take for Munninghoff to make the staff?" somebody asked.


"Consistency," said Green. "So far, he has shown me that down here. His biggest problem during his first three years in pro ball has been the fact he has not been consistent. He has a chance, though, to be a good one. He needs to let his fastball do its work. It has excellent movement."


EXTRA POINTS – The Phillies were close to a deal with Los Angeles, Garry Maddox for pitcher Don Sutton... Sutton, however, reportedly killed the trade, saying he would never sit in the visiting dugout at Dodger Stadium... That would leave Los Angeles no other option but to trade him to an American League team – if they deal him.

Owners drop salary scale; players unmoved


Associated Press


NEW YORK – With dramatic suddenness, negotiators for major league baseball have dropped one of their key proposals in an attempt to reach contract peace with the players.


But there is some question how much effect yesterday's withdrawal of the proposed salary scales will really have on the so-far stalled talks.


"It's a little like you've been beating your wife and children for years," noted Marvin Miller, executive director of the Players Association. "Then you stop-and now you want a medal because you stopped."


A medal isn't necessary, but Ray Grebey, chief negotiator for the owners, would like a contract agreement and he believes the movement in talks yesterday set the stage for that. Asked if he considered the proposal's withdrawal a breakthrough, Grebey said, "I never use descriptive adjectives."


But it was clear that Grebey felt progress had been made in the 3½-hour meeting in Fort Lauderdale, the final negotiating session in Florida. The two sides will next meet again Wednesday, March 26, in Scottsdale, Ariz.


"We feel it's enough of a development to provide a settlement," Grebey said.


But that may not be the view of the players. From the start they have considered the free-agent compensation proposal a more dangerous part of the owners' package than the salary scales.


After the scales proposal was withdrawn, the players indicated willingness to amend or withdraw some of their proposals. But that movement is predicated on the owners dropping their proposal on free-agent compensation.


"We don't intend to do that," said Grebey. "We intend to bargain on it."


The owners' plan contains a formula setting compensation based on the number of teams selecting a free agent. A team signing a player selected in the re-entry draft by more than eight teams would protect 15 players and then allow the club losing the free agent to receive an amateur draft pick, plus a major or minor league player left unprotected.


The players fear any compensation would restrict the free-agent market and limit movement, creating a situation similiar to the National Football League where free agents rarely move from team to team.


"We have never said from Day One of these talks that our proposals are letter perfect and must go unchanged," Grebey said. "Both parties have an obligation to bargain what's properly on the table." Grebey said the withdrawl of the salary scales was met with silence across the table.


Among the players sitting in on the negotiations were Reggie Jackson of the New York Yankees, Doug DeCinces and Mark Belanger of the Baltimore Orioles, Jon Matlack and Jim Kern of the Texas Rangers and Gene Garber of the Atlanta Braves.


Earlier yesterday, management went public with its case for the first time, detailing the proposals made to the players. (News-Journal sports editor Hal Bodley reported the details in his Sunday column.)


Included were increases in pensions that would pay a five-year player at age 45 benefits of $5,580 per year to $21,408 for 10-year players at age 55, and finally $50,000 annually to a 20-year man at age 65.


Other proposals which the owners said added to a total of $26 million more than in the expired contract were life insurance benefits boosted from $50,000 to $250,000 and major medical payments from $100,000 to $250,000.


The owners said their package was more than five times the cost of living increase of the past three years. They said terms of the expired agreement continued and that negotiations could continue under labor laws after April 9, opening day of the 1980 season.


Bob Boone of the Phillies, who is the National League player representative, said that as far as he was concerned he feared that the owners think the players are kidding. "They just aren't hearing," said the Phillies' catcher.


Boone is a member of the Players Association executive board which voted earlier this month to recommend strike action on or after April 1 unless there was an agreement. That position has been supported almost unanimously in team votes held by Miller all over Florida.


The executive board will convene again in Dallas April 1 to consider its next move. Grebey thinks that should be a contract agreement.


"There is no reason why baseball should not start the season on time," he said. "The basis for a settlement is in place."

Phils 6-1, Orioles 5-1, in Las Vegas book


Associated Press


LAS VEGAS – The New York Yankees and the California Angels are 3-1 favorites to win the American League pennant, while the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates are picked to win the National League flag, according to Bob Martin, Las Vegas oddsmaker.


Martin, who has offered betting lines on virtually everything from Academy Award favorites to when Los Angeles will be hit by an earthquake, said yesterday he favors the Yankees and the Angels over the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, who are both 4-1 to win the pennant.


The Pirates and the Dodgers were each made 3-1 favorites to win the pennant in the National League, followed by the Houston Astros and Montreal Expos at 4-1.


The oddsmaker for the race and sports book at the Union Plaza Hotel, Martin also said Oakland A's Manager Billy Martin was a 2-1 favorite not to complete the season. However, he said, if owner Charlie Finley sells the 500-1 A's, all Martin bets are off. The oddsmaker also said Manager Earl Weaver of Baltimore is a 5-6 favorite to be thrown out of six more games than Billy Martin over the season.


"Surprisingly, we're getting a tremendous amount of housewives betting on Billy Martin, because he's such good copy I guess, and because the A's are down so far," said Frank Maggio, Union Plaza spokesman. "It's a good bet."


The Baltimore Orioles, who won the American League pennant last year but lost the Series to Pittsburgh, are rated 5-1 this year.


Behind the top rated American League teams, Martin has the Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers at 5-1. The Boston Red Sox were favored at 6-1, followed by the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins each at 40-1. The Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians were rated 100-1, while the Seattle Mariners were made 250-1. Oakland shared last place with the Toronto Blue Jays, both at 500-1.


In the National League, the Cincinnati Reds were rated 5-1, followed at 6-1 by the Philadelphia Phillies. The St. Louis Cardinals were a 10-1 favorite, followed by the San Francisco Giants at 25-1 and the Chicago Cubs at 60-1. The San Diego Padres were rated 100-1, the Atlanta Braves were 200-1 and the New York Mets were 500-1.